Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private William George Leinster



William George Leinster was born on 22 April 1894 at Drummullen, Farnham, County Cavan, the first of seven children of labourer George Leinster and his wife Elizabeth (nee Phair). By 1911 he was living at Drummullen with his family and working as an agricultural labourer.

Leinster enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 19 March and 2 April 1915 (No.1469). On 17 November that year he embarked for France with F Squadron.

In June 1916 F Squadron joined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps for the next fourteen months. In September 1917 the 2nd Regiment was dismounted and most of its men were transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men were formally transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Leinster was issued regimental number 41266.

He must have been at home on leave just prior to this, for of 18 August he had married Georgina Connelly at St Marks Church in Dundela, Belfast.

It is likely that Leinster saw action with the battalion in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and perhaps also in the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive.

On 9 April 1918 the 9th Battalion was on the Ypres front when the Germans began their offensive in that sector. The battalion saw severe fighting between Wulverghem and Kemmel for more than a week and suffered many casualties. Leinster was initially listed as missing between 9 and 19 April, but his death was later accepted. He was possibly killed in the early morning of 18 April when a composite battalion of 400 men from the 9th and 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, and 12th Royal Irish Rifles, were caught in an enemy bombardment while moving to positions on the western slopes of Mount Kemmel.

According to the battalion diary for that day:

2 am. Moved to Kemmel, as composite Bn with 1st R. Ir. Fus. cmd. by Lt. Col. Kelly. Heavy casualties, while moving into position, from enemy shelling. Capt. Despard wounded and died soon after.

... and the 108 Brigade diary:

Battalion moved to Kemmel Hill, but whilst halted near foot of N. slope was heavily shelled, losing Captain Despard killed ... and about 70 other casualties.

Having no known grave, Private Leinster's name is inscribed on Panel 141, Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.



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